Friday, September 18, 2015

Memoirs of a Greek Taxi Driver - The Tears of Repentance

Are You Sure You Don’t Know Thanasi the Taxi Driver?

It was noontime, and I was working at the taxi plaza of Panorama. A lady around 70 to 75 years old entered the cab and directed me to transport her to the vicinity of Nomos, about a five- or six-minute drive.

“Bravo, my young man! What a beautiful thing to take a taxi and to listen to beautiful Byzantine chanting!”

“Really ma’am, do you like it?”

“Do I like it? I listen to the same station all day long in my home, and I raise the volume so that it can be heard in all my rooms. At other times, while doing my house work, I listen to some wonderful CDs of Father Athanasios Mitilinaios, Father Savvas, and Father Moses. I also listen to Thanasi, the taxi driver. Do you know him?”

Oh! What a cold splash this was at noontime! I pretended that I was concentrating on my driving. I wanted quickly to change the subject, because I didn’t want to fall into thoughts of pride, nor did I want to lie to her. I tried to ignore her question, but unfortunately the lady pressed on.

“My son, are you sure you don’t know Thanasi, the taxi driver?”

The pressure was on, and this blessed woman would not let up. I continued to try to stay incognito, but for how long I could do this I didn’t know, since this woman kept insisting that somehow I was supposed to know this man. At a certain moment I asked her, “Madam, what’s the big deal with this Thanasi the taxi driver?”

“What’s the big deal? If you hear the true experiences in Thanasi’s CD,[1] and the works of God’s grace in his taxi, you will not believe your ears.” The lady began to rave about this Thanasi and his CD, which led me to believe that she was missing most of the stories in this book. So, I proceeded to give her an MP3, which contained all my recorded audio files up to that point, and I did it discreetly enough, so she wouldn’t catch on.

As soon as she took it in her hand she asked me, “What is this?”

“Just a small gift, since I see that we are quenching our thirst from the same spiritual spring. This includes many true stories as well.” The lady accepted it with much gratitude, and she thanked me, without realizing a thing.

A little before we arrived at her home, she turned to me and said, “Oh, my son, please park your car for a moment and wait for me. I need to go into the house, so I can bring you Thanasi’s CD. You cannot imagine what amazing things you are going to hear.”

I had no other choice, my friends, but patiently to comply with my customer’s request. I parked, turned the engine off, got out of the car, and waited. In a few minutes, the lady hurriedly returned with Thanasi’s CD – in one of her own beautiful cases, no less. I thanked her, and I remember telling her, “May the Panaghia repay you for this!”

We exchanged a warm handshake and well wishes in a climate of much emotion and warm sentiments. As I drove off, I fulfilled her wish and listened to the CD from the beginning. As I kept listening, I remembered an appropriate verse in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes: “Cast your bread upon the waters and you will find it in time.”

So this CD, after circulating for a while, found its way back into my hands, in this amazing way. Glory to Thee, our Lord, glory to Thee!

[1] The stories in this book circulated as audio CDs for a few years in Greece and abroad, with great popularity.

Constantine Zalalas